Peter Franklin runs a London auction house with his father and young-orphaned wife Stella, but her naive idealistic approach doesn't square with business. She jumps at a chance to leave for Cornwall, where she's invited to the reading of the last will of an earl. To everyone's amazement, she inherited a countess title she never heard of and co-ownership of the splendid estate. The thus half-disinherited wasteful, disloyal widow and her sister plot against Stella. Support comes from the enigmatic butler James and architect David Brighton, son of the estate managers and a fellow antiques devotee, who quickly becomes her passionate lover and companion in the search for secrets, stirred by mysteriously appearing clues.